The St. Thomas University Tommies basketball team hosted the 10th annual Ken Gould Invitational tournament from Oct. 22 to 24 at the Lady Beaverbrook Gym.
“It’s definitely a very special tournament,” said guard Emily Owens. “It’s very well known around our STU community and it definitely holds a very motivating factor.”
The tournament began at 2 p.m and was streamed live online.
Kenneth Gould, born in 1941, led the Tommies to the New Brunswick College Basketball Conference Championship from 1963 to 1965 and was awarded the most valuable player for two of those years. Gould led the team in scoring and ended his 1963-64 season with 243 points. He was named to the foundational Canada Games for Team New Brunswick Basketball.
In 2011, Gould was inducted to STU’s sports wall of fame – the same year the Ken Gould Invitational launched. Gould attended each tournament, alongside his daughter, Stephanie, and at times other family members. He kicked off the first game of each year with a ceremonial ball toss.
Gould was unable to attend the past few tournaments due to illness and died in September 2020. Stephanie Gould tossed the ball for him for the tournaments he missed, including this year, and will continue this tradition.
“I think it is really quite an honour to have [a tournament] named after you while you’re still alive to enjoy it,” said Stephanie Gould. “He went and watched all of the games.”
The Ken Gould tournament began as a female-only competition, but as the years went on, it shifted to both men and women. This year, the days varied between men’s and women’s games.
After hearing about the circuit breaker, Stephanie Gould feared this year’s tournament would be postponed like last year. But, with safety regulations in place, she was able to toss the ball and the tournament began.
“I think my dad would be happy that it’s still going and that his family members are there to support it too.”
The Tommies women’s team played their first game on Friday at 6 p.m. against Cégep de Sainte-Foy. They held a close score throughout the game and STU opened up a lead with five minutes left on the clock, but Ste-Foy caught up. The game ended in a tie of 59-59, entering overtime and Ste-Foy won 65-60. The leading scorers were Céline Sterckel and Kylee Roi.
On Saturday, the Tommies kicked the game off in the lead, but Mount Saint Vincent University led throughout the other quarters. STU lost to MSVU 67-51, but the leading scorers were Vanessa Soffee and Owens.
They played their final game on Sunday against Mount Allison University. By halftime, the Tommies led 42-27, but MTA began to catch up. STU ended their weekend with a 73-65 win against MTA. The leading scorers were Sterkel and Alyssa Jeffrey.
The women’s team ended the tournament tied with MSVU and MTA.
Owens injured her ankle during the final quarter and watched the final minutes and awards on the live stream from the hospital – where she found out she was awarded tournament all-star.
“My mom and I were in the E.R. clapping and it was great,” she said. “I haven’t [had] a tournament MVP since I’ve been at STU.”
Fourth-year Owens said the tournament was an opportunity for the team to “dip their toes into the water” – preparing them for their season games.
“To see what we’re going to face this season and who our biggest opponents are going to be and just where we stand,” she said. “It’s a really great learning experience.”
On Friday, followed by the women’s team, the men’s team played against Cégep de Sainte-Foy. Within the first seconds of the game, STU’s Gayo Isaya dunked on the net. The score stayed close throughout the game, but STU led in the second half. The Tommies won 63-46, with the lead scorers being Isaya and Almin Dervisevic.
The men’s team played MSVU on Saturday, leading the whole game. STU won again 93-67 with lead scorers Dervisevic and Vincent Lyttleton.
They played MTA for their final game on Sunday. Although STU picked up a strong lead in the third quarter, MTA made a comeback – only 7 points behind the Tommies. With six seconds left, Dervisevic made a baseline jumper securing STU an 80-78 win.
This is the second Ken Gould tournament in a row where the men’s team placed first overall.
For the Tommies, the tournament all-star was awarded to Isaya and the most valuable player to Dervisevic.
“I’m very happy and proud to get that honour,” said Dervisevic. “But, at the same time … we have a bigger common goal — to win a championship and to make some noise.”
With eight new players on their roster, he said it took time to understand how each individual plays. Dervisevic said this tournament allowed them to state a message.
“You’re coming into our gym and the Ken Gould means something to us,” he said. “We’re going to win this tournament, even if it is the pre-season, we don’t take anything for granted.”
Dervisevic said it’s important to appreciate moments and opportunities like the Ken Gould tournament.
“I have a saying: ‘one per cent better every day.’ We’re trying to get back towards the end of the year so that we can compete for a championship,” he said. “Let’s focus on us as a unit, and everything else will take care of itself.”